Photos: Antonovich, Words: Davis
The 2017 racing season became a challenge before it even began for Matt Bisceglia, as he broke a bone in his ankle while preparing for the kickoff of the Monster Energy Supercross Series. Bisceglia was sidelined from racing for some time, so once he was cleared to ride he wasted no time in preparing for his return. Unfortunately, though, the Oregon native went down during his second day back on the bike resulting in a spiral fracture of his tibia and fibula. The AutoTrader.com/Monster Energy/Toyota/JGR MX/Suzuki rider has since made a full recovery and has been cleared to ride, so we can look for his comeback to happen within the next couple weeks.
2017 has been an extremely rough year for you, as it all began with an injury just before the kickoff of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series.
Yeah, it’s been a little rough. Backing up to December, I over cleared a jump at Milestone one day and I ended up breaking my ankle. Specifically, I broke the talus bone and had to get a little pin put in, but it really wasn’t a big deal. I understand that unfortunate things happen, but I have accepted that and moved on from it. I accepted the consequences and dealt with them accordingly. Once I was cleared to ride again, I rode outdoors for one day and then went right into Supercross on day two. I planned on returning to racing at the third or fourth round of the 250 East Coast SX Championship, which would have worked out great because it would have given me some time to prepare myself for racing again. My first day on the Supercross track, though, I was riding with Justin Hill and we had just watered the track, so it was a little slick. I came into this one particular turn a little too fast and I lost my front end, and once I rolled over I saw that my leg was facing the wrong way. I reset it as quick as I could, and did so before anyone else got there. I really don’t know what made me do that, but every time I think about it now I can’t help but cringe. Ultimately, I ended up spiral fracturing my tib and fib; it was a pretty brutal break. One of the small pieces of bone that floated away from the break had actually healed itself to my shin, so I had to have that removed a little over a month ago. That was a pretty minor surgery, but this has been a long road for me. This has by far been the toughest obstacle I’ve ever faced as a motocross racer. I’ve had some pretty ugly injuries before including broken legs, but this one was a challenge. I think being in the position that I’m in now – signed to a factory team – along with the severity of the injury has made this a little more of a challenge. Actually, to be honest, this has been one of the toughest obstacles I’ve ever faced in my life; even outside of racing. I had A lot of time to sit back and think about everything that had happened, so it became a little tough to stay away from those negative thoughts. You have to stay positive, though, and I’m so thankful that I was able to do that. I was able to turn all of that negativity and sadness into something positive. Even outside of motocross, I want to be the best person that I can possibly be, and that’s taught me to take the positives out of everything that I do. I feel like I’ve bettered myself not only as an athlete during my time away from racing, but as a person, as well. I’ve had a lot of time to think about everything that’s happened, and it’s given me time to reflect on myself and my decisions. It’s been a very long road, but I’m back on the bike and happy to be doing what I love. I’m hoping to return to racing at one of the upcoming rounds of the Pro Motocross Championship, but we’ll see how I’m feeling. If I have to ride myself back into shape, then I have no problem doing that, but if I really feel that I’m not ready to line up yet, then I will hold off. I want to get back to racing more than anything, but I can’t risk further injuring myself just because I was impatient. I’m working my butt off on a daily basis to get myself back to where I was prior to these injuries. Everything has had time to heal and now it’s just a matter of regaining some muscle, but it’s going to be painful because of the severity of the injury. That’s to be expected with any sort of injury, though, so I’m just gonna do what I do and plug away.
What sort of thoughts ran through your mind when you realized you had broken your leg during your second day back on the bike?
The weird thing for me is that after I had started riding again after my broken ankle, I felt like I picked up right where I had left off in December. That was a great feeling, but it was quickly forgotten. Anyone that’s ever been hurt riding a dirt bike knows that with the adrenaline in your body it usually takes a minute or two to figure out if anything is hurt or broken, but as soon as I saw my leg I lost it. I can’t even begin to describe to you the feelings and emotions that were running through my mind. I was in complete and utter disbelief at what had just happened. Like I said earlier, though, it’s important to take the positives out of negative situations, and that’s what I’ve done.
As you mentioned, these injuries gave you a lot of time to reflect and think about everything that’s happened over the past six months. Did you learn anything about yourself mentally during that time?
I absolutely learned a lot about myself not only as a racer, but as a person, as well. During all my time away from racing I was able to think about everything from my family to my personal life to my career choice, and I firmly believe this reflection period was necessary for me. I’m back, though, and I can’t wait to get back behind the starting line.
For a little less than a year now, you’ve been involved in a new training regimen with Justin Hill and Johnny Louch. Talk about some of the things that have changed for you with this new training program…
I’ve actually worked with Johnny in the past and we’ve remained friends even when I wasn’t working with him. A lot of people don’t know this, but Justin and I actually grew up together in Oregon. We were even each other’s first friends as infants (laughs). In my opinion, the fact that we’ve both ended up here career wise and we get to train together everyday is pretty rad, and we have an awesome regimen going on with Johnny, who’s extremely experienced when it comes to this type of stuff. Johnny is the type of guy that would do anything for Justin and I because we’re almost like his kids. Having Johnny’s gym – The W Training Facility – at our fingertips is a tremendous help, as well along with his vast amount of knowledge. There’s actually quite a lot of people that train at The W including other riders and trainers, so it’s not hard to see that Johnny enjoys helping others. Johnny, Justin and I have a certain chemistry about us. The three of us get along extremely well and we work together even better. Everything is a little more relaxed when compared to some other training groups, but no matter what we get the job done. When you have fun doing your job it gets done more easily and efficiently, and that’s what we’re aiming for.
Last year you put in several impressive performances on the outdoor circuit during your first season in the premier class, while filling-in at Yoshimura Suzuki for the injured Blake Baggett. You don’t seem to struggle outdoors, so are you happy to make your return during the nationals?
Yeah, I am extremely excited especially after sitting out for what feels like the entire year. Racing outdoors is typically in my favor, as I love racing the nationals, so don’t think I dislike Supercross because I’ve had my best finishes indoors. Outdoors just comes to me a little easier. I feel much more consistent when I comes to motorcross, as well. Like you said, last year I was given the opportunity to fill-in at Yoshimura Suzuki, and I flew the flag for them over the Summer. It was an amazing time for me and my career! Motocross is rough, hot, brutal and everything in between, but there’s something about those 30 minute +2 lap motos that hurts so good (laughs). Enduring that pain and suffering, and then knowing you’ve accomplished something that not a lot of people are capable of doing alongside the best in the world is a great feeling. The feeling that this sport gives me is something that I can’t put into words, and when I don’t have that stimulus in my life everything seems different. I am beyond excited to get back to racing, as I have been itching to get behind the gate for months, now. It’s been a long road for me, so when you see me back at the races you can rest assured knowing that I’m back where I need to be.